I know that Met’s new season of HD broadcasts began on October 11th with Strauss’ Salome, but I was only able to see it yesterday when it was shown again around the country 11 days later – last year the encore performances were a day later, so I’m not sure why the change – and I have to say that I left the movie theater in a kind of puzzlement that is not easy to explain. Salome is a great opera, beautiful music and challenging for all the singers, especially the soprano. I think Mattila did a great job singing the role of Salome, but, for goodness sake, I hope that she never does this opera again – I hesistate to be rude (probably for the first time in my life) but it was a horrible horrible production with a horrible horrible acting by Mattila who did not seem to get what the opera is about at all. Not that Mattila is a great actor anyway – last season’s Manon Lescaut she did such a horrible job that in the end I was glad the heroine finally died. But in Manon Lescaut she was covered in clothing and the production was such that camera was constantly wandering around showing other singers and situations.
In Salome Mattila looked old and senile, constantly adjusting her dress in the first pre-dance sequence – with camera concentrated on her face most of the time, it was a horrible sight of a 50 or so year old soprano trying to look like a naive yet seductive teenager – with all the awkward grimaces, disgusting old-person flesh hanging out here and there, constricted movements of someone who doesn’t know what to do next, strange poses and no emotional interaction with the character whatsoever. I had to close my eyes most of the time in order to enjoy the voice and the music, but that’s like listening to the CD and I wanted to see the opera.
Alex Ross described the same production from 4 years ago with such engagement that I was led to believe that this will be a great experience, well, it was not: Continue reading